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Fiction

2018

The Five Secret Truths of Demonkind in Big Echo. The earth is cursed; humans are doomed to become monsters. A demon breaches virtue’s fortress in search of God.

‘Red as Water, White as Ruin’ in Mythic Delirium. An expedition journeys to a land devastated by an unknown apocalypse, navigating an impossible curse and an impossible survivor. Secondary-world horror/dark fantasy.

‘The Owls of Juttshatan’. On a cold world of slow-moving terns, a child grows in the shadow of her mother the war hero. She is a creature of peace, raised in quiet among maps and dreams and owls. But she can be more, if she chooses. A space opera novelette of brutal bildungsroman. Prequel to ‘Autodidact’

2017

‘You and I Shall be as Radiant’. Hu Feilin is a survivor of genocide, one of the last of her world. She knows of only one other, her sister Hu Liyan, a child selected by the tyrants for military training. To get Liyan back, Feilin will overcome anything: ancient ghosts, a genocidal army—or her own sister’s wish.

‘After-Swarm’. In the far future, soldiers are sent to fight a proxy war on a distant planet to solve the question: who owns Earth? But with the war resolved, soldiers no longer have a use. Emilia, once valued for her machine affinity, must return to the life she left behind and face a world ordered anew.

‘No Pearls as Blue as These’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Bidaten is a bulwark, one of those bred as living weapons to fight horrors from beyond the high, vast walls that keep humanity safe from monsters. Duty is all she knows until her lord brings home a beautiful foreign bride.

‘Fade to Gold’ in Pseudopod (audio reprint). Narrated by Jen Zink.

‘The Universe as Vast as Our Longings’ in The Jewish Mexican Literary Review. In a far future, a country of tyrants conquers a world and takes in its children to raise as willing collaborators. When all you have is nothing, living itself is resistance. 6,200 words.

‘The Sun Shall Lie Across Us Like Gold’ in Clockwork Cairo (ed. Matthew Bright, Twopenny Press). Post-colonial steampunk in 19th century Thailand. Sequel to ‘The Governess and We’. 3,500 words.

‘Parable of the Cocoon’ in Big Echo. When the aliens came it was not to invade, but to uplift humanity for the purposes of an inscrutable war. Human subjects are selected for alien communion, given to perceive time in parallax… or perhaps something else entirely. 5,800 words.

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Behind the Book: And Shall Machines Surrender

I’m getting into the tradition of writing out some world-building notes and asides for my books, and this is as good a time as any to start. And Shall Machines Surrender is available now, incidentally, in ebook or paperback from AmazonBarnes and NobleiBooks, and Kobo.

These are partly summaries of what is already in the text, and partly what is extra-text (elaboration on some background details) or concern material that’ll be explored/elaborated on in short stories. There are no spoilers.

  • The name for this universe/setting is the Machine Mandate, since I needed a collective term to refer to the tie-in short stories. (There will be at least two, both long novelettes.)
  • The haruspices of Shenzhen Sphere are humans who share their bodies with newly made AIs. (Why do the AIs want to do this? Read the book and find out, etc.) Application to become a haruspex is competitive. A haruspex is treated as the foremost class of citizens to the point of worship. The blending of AI and human into a single body is done by implants, multiple surgeries, and very extensive modifications.
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Summer 2019 anime first impressions

Dr. Stone is a post-apocalyptic show set in the aftermath of humanity all simultaneously turning to stone. Interesting premise, but unfortunately it has an issue of looking, and feeling, and sounding so retro that I thought it was an adaptation of some truly ancient manga. Instead it turns out the author usually draws porn, which explains why the female characters look so horrific (I understand they look worse in the manga) while the male ones look good and well-designed. Despite this screenshot, the green hair kid is a massive homophobe who’s nervous about his male friend hugging him while half-naked. He’s also quite insufferable. I might watch another episode, but most likely I’ll drop this one.

Enen no Shouboutai is a show about a super-powered firefighting force (surprisingly, not as niche as it sounds) and, so far, is very good. The visuals are attractive, the animation is slick, I love the art style. Even the protagonist’s tragic backstory is done very stylishly! It’s just pleasing to look at, and while there’s minor fanservice the female characters seem promising, and the ensemble cast looks like it’ll work out well. I’m optimistic about this one.

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Cyberpunk: Genre Boundaries, Revisionism, and Gatekeeping

I’ve been discoursing on cyberpunk for a few threads, so I thought I’d put my thoughts together.

(You can also buy my lesbian cyberpunk in space book. Which, according to the definitions laid out below, wouldn’t be cyberpunk either! Woo.)

My gripe with the discourse is that it concerns cyberpunk as conceived and written and produced by white westerners; I was surprised to learn, for example, that cyberpunk is dead because… er… according to a white person who has never consumed cyberpunk by anyone who’s not a white man, it’s dead because er… it failed to solve capitalism? Look: the function of fiction is not, and has never been, pure didacticism. Its function is not solely to warn or predict, or provide solutions–if you want to do those things directly, I very much recommend making political pamphlets! Do real-life activism! Run for office! Did you know ‘non-white’ people don’t call our work cyberpunk? Ever? Yeah, that’s news to me too. We’re so lucky to have a white person telling us what’s what. Anyway, I think the people involved in this project will be surprised to learn cyberpunk is dead, actually.

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AND SHALL MACHINES SURRENDER is up for pre-order!

Amazon initially and ebook first (paperback edition soon), but: you can pre-order my cyberpunk thriller now! Out 11 July. Dyson Sphere fun, deadly mysteries, AIs, lesbian cyborgs and more!

(Image: a dark-skinned woman, with blue glowing cybernetic eyes and earrings, stands in profile, glaring at the viewer, dressed in a dark suit)

Did you know the vast majority of art featuring women of color in a cyberpunk setting is really fetishistic and sexualized? There’s a strong preponderance of East Asian women in particular, probably meant to be Japanese, owing to cyberpunk in the west being a little orientalist. I didn’t want a scantily clad woman, and I especially wanted a darker-skinned woman (partly because the cover of Winterglass has a pale-skinned East Asian woman) to illustrate that one of the protagonists in And Shall Machines Surrender is Thai. Most importantly, I want her to look capable. Not ‘sassy’, capable. No smiling. No smirking. She just stares at you like she’s about to strangle you bare-handed, which she can by the way, cyborg super-strength and all.

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Revisions (2019)

I absolutely didn’t think I would finish watching this show (let alone review it). This is one of those anime that comes off very derivative and barely watchable for the first half or so and then gets inexplicably decent in the second half. It’s an anime that looks and sounds like it was made by cobbling together about 20 other, much better shows.

Revisions is directed by Taniguchi Goro, yes Taniguchi of Code Geass fame. Which was funny to learn because I spent a lot of time thinking ‘god this looks like Code Geass rejects’ as I went through the first three episodes. Which means it is, most likely, literally Code Geass design rejects. But as a whole this anime looks… secondhand. Here’s a guy who looks almost identical to Shinji (it becomes more obvious when he’s piloting). How about these monster designs from RahXephon? Hey, isn’t this entire part from Planet With? Another issue is that Revisions is animated in that dreaded CGI style that, presumably, helps cut costs. It’s very hard to watch and the style makes me clench my teeth immediately, even if it still looks a hundred times more polished than its western counterparts (e.g. Dragon Prince). The cell-shaded CGI thing just doesn’t look good on anyone, in stills or in motion, and if you’ve already seen good animation before–I understand people who exclusively watch western cartoons have seen no such thing–it just sticks out as an unfortunate, hideous eyesore.

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